Examining KC Royals newest player Will Smith's pitching arsenal

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Will Smith, the newest addition to the KC Royals, has certainly made a name for himself around the MLB. His three straight World Series rings with three different teams are easy to joke about, but the fact is that Smith belongs in a contending bullpen. The Royals signing him is not an instant fix, but it still offers hope for fans fearing the team's bargain-bin free agency history.

The KC Royals signing Will Smith was a pleasant surprise for the fanbase.

Smith's impact next season could go a couple of ways. The Royals could treat him like Aroldis Chapman, whom they traded well before the trade deadline to the eventual World Series champions. They could hold on to Smith, depending on the win-loss record. Either way, he should be Kansas City's bullpen veteran and de facto closer starting the season. Fans will see plenty of Smith before trade speculation ramps up.

In this article, we will take a closer look at Smith's repertoire of pitches, analyzing their effectiveness and discussing how they could potentially elevate the Royals to new heights.

Before we dive into how well each pitch performs, let's look at what pitches Smith used in 2023 and then his historical usage rates.

2023 pitch usage, according to FanGraphs

Slider: 49.2%
Four Seam Fastball: 39.0%
Curveball: 8.6%
Changeup: 2.8%

Career pitch usage, according to Fangraphs

Four Seam Fastball: 43.8% (peak: 48.3%, 2014)
Slider: 35.2% (peak: 49.2%, 2023)
Curveball: 12.3% (peak: 22.0%, 2012)
Sinker: 5.8% (peak: 25.2%, 2012)
Changeup: 1.9% (peak: 6.8%, 2012)


It is interesting to see how Smith's arsenal has changed since making his MLB debut in 2012. He was a sinker-curve guy in 2012, then shifted more to a sinker-slider the following season. His fastball usage increased immediately after leaving Kansas City, staying above 40% from 2014 to 2022. His fastball velocity has not changed much over the years, averaging 92.2 MPH. His curveball usage may rise in 2024 if the trends regarding the Royals keep true. Overall, Smith knows what he does well and what he doesn't. That is what veterans do, after all.

Let's take a look at which of those pitches work best and which work the least for Smith in 2023.